Making the Most of Your Cusco to Puno Travel
There are many ways to get from Cusco, Peru to Puno, Peru, and back, and some are definitely more enjoyable than others. While you could drive or take a bus or train, we recommend taking the train if possible. It is an adventure in itself and offers spectacular views of the Andes mountains and the surrounding landscapes.
Both bus and train can be a comfortable way to travel and each will allow you to truly enjoy the sights around you and take in the vast beauty of the land that is Peru. There are two main options for this trip: the bus and train, along with a third possibility of a chartered car. While you can fly from Cusco to nearby Puno, there are no direct flights. We'll still cover all possible routes, and how to book with a service such as 12go to save time and money! Our complete guide will also cover all you need to know about what to see and visit on this amazing trek.
Keep reading to find out which option best suits your needs and preferences, as well as how long the journey will take and what else you can do in Puno besides getting back to Cusco!
How to Get From Cusco to Puno
Getting from Cusco to Puno can be done in the three main ways outlined above; bus, train, and day trip charter. This resource will give you all the needed information and research the cost and travel time of each option. We'll also detail how to book accommodations for bus, train, and charter travel by taxi car in advance to ensure the availability of the right departures and the lowest fares.
When traveling by bus, prepare for the altitude difference between Cusco and Puno as you will be traveling higher in the latter. It also helps to familiarize yourself with information on the local culture and customs before embarking on the journey. This will help you enjoy your trip more and be better equipped for the terrain and climate.
If you are opting for a chartered taxi to travel from Cusco to Puno, be aware of road conditions and safety issues. Research possible route options and avoid those times with the heaviest traffic. Also, ensure that your car is well-maintained and that you have adequate travel insurance coverage before you depart.
Riding the Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno
Andean Explorer trains are often said to be the most relaxed way to travel from Cusco to Puno. It is a luxury train that takes about 8 hours and offers amazing views of the Andes Mountains and Lake Titicaca. The Cusco to Puno train has several classes of service, including a deluxe service with private cabins and gourmet meals. The buffet lunch available to general passengers is also exceptional, so either way, you will be well-fed! The best part about traveling by train is that it allows you to experience the beauty of the local area in comfort and style, and see the sights unobstructed from an observation car.
Peru Rail is the major company that travels this route and offers reclining seats and a variety of other amenities for the trip. The main terminal for departures from Cusco is Wanchaq Station, with Arequipa Station on the way, and an ultimate destination of Lago Titicaca Station in Puno.
You can also enjoy a whole host of onboard activities. Additionally, the train stops along the way so you can explore some of the attractions in the surrounding area. If you are looking for an adventure-packed day trip from Cusco, consider the Andean Explorer train options for travel from Cusco to Puno.
Other activities on PeruRail include:
- A hot welcoming beverage
- A three-course gourmet meal
- Buffet lunch is also available
- Music from live bands and traditional dancers
- A sampling of Pisco Sour (for adults of age)
- An observation car, dining car, and bar car
- View of the Peruvian Andes
- An available tour of the train cars
- Private toilet available, and clean bathroom quarters
- The opportunity for an afternoon tea
The Route of the Sun: Sightseeing on the Cusco to Puno Bus
Another great way to travel is by tourist bus from Cusco to Puno. It still has plenty of amenities on the coach, including air conditioning and reclining seats, plus wifi in many cases. Plus you don't have to worry about other drivers. The route takes about 8 hours and passes through some of the most popular attractions in the region, including Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, and Copa Coffee. It's a great way to experience the diverse landscapes and cultures of Peru and take in the stunning views of the Lake and the Andes.
Luxury buses offered by Cruz Del Sur, Transzela, and Trans Titicaca can also offer comfortable seats, phone chargers, wi-fi, and more legroom than regular buses for a little extra cost. At its lowest rates, the bus can be the cheapest way to get from Cusco to Puno, especially for larger groups of tourists who book in advance.
The distance to the bus from Cusco to Puno can mean that paying a little extra for the trip can be the best option, as you'll be spending at least 7 hours in transit. Buses depart from the Terminal Terrestre in Cusco and arrive at the same in Puno, along with other possible bus station options like the Puno Terminal and Civa Terminal in the city. A hostel is also available on the upper floor of the station itself and is a cheap if noisy place to stay before exploring Puno.
Inka Express runs a bus for this route, but Cruz del Sur is the more common choice for those familiar with the trip. No matter your type of travel option, turn to 12go to buy tickets in advance, and rest assured of the lowest rate and most choices!
The Route of the Sun trip can be a little exhausting, so you should plan your stops carefully and bring plenty of water, food, and sunscreen. If you are traveling during the sunny months, April to November, it's an ideal time to travel this route.
The bus will take you past fields of golden grass and wildflowers as well as gleaming creeks and blue lakes. You will travel in style through the Raya Pass, a boundary point between the two regions and the site of 'La Raya,' the highest point in altitude of the entire journey. It also gives you an opportunity to experience the Peruvian sun and weather firsthand, in comfort.
Andahuaylillas (elevation: 3093 m)Andahuaylillas is an important stop on the Cusco to Puno experience. The town is known for its colonial-style church and has several interesting attractions. Visiting Andahuaylillas is a great way to explore the local culture and experience some of the beauty and history of this region.
Sicuani (elevation: 3542 m)Sicuani is a small town located in the Peruvian Andes and is known for its Incan ruins. The town offers stunning views of nearby mountains and valleys and provides a great starting point for exploring Puno and Lake Titicaca. Visitors to Sicuani can tour the local Incan ruins and learn about the history of Peru.
The Urubamba River also passes through Sicuani and has the opportunity for rafting during the right times of the year.
La Raya (elevation: 4338 m)La Raya is the highest point on the Cusco to Puno bus trip and offers stunning views of snowcapped mountains, colorful lagoons, and rolling hills from the town’s historic churches and ruins. The nearby lakes are ideal for bird-watching and fishing, and visitors can take advantage of the area’s colonial architecture and culture.
If you are planning a visit to La Raya, Peru, be sure to pick up souvenirs such as alpaca products and handmade jewelry. The town is a great place to spend your stop exploring the local sights and delving into local culture.
Pucara (elevation: 3879 m)Pucara is a pre-Incan archaeological site located along the Cusco to Puno bus route in the highlands of Peru. The ruins of Pukara are believed to have been constructed by the Wari culture between 600 and 700 AD. The site features several stone towers and terraces that were used as watchtowers and defense structures. The Pucara Stone Museum can also be worth a stop, with a collection of ancient Inca pottery on display.
Cusco to Puno by Bus
Before booking your bus ticket, it’s important to compare ticket prices and schedules and make informed decisions. Depending on the type of coach and duration of the journey, bus tickets may cost anywhere between $10 and $40 per seat. This can add up if you are traveling in a large group and are likely to be booking multiple tickets for the ride.
The bus companies that travel from Cusco to Puno include:
Instead of waiting for bus availability to strike, book your tickets in advance to get the best deals and availability. In case of any issues, you can contact the bus company or get even better customer service through 12Go.
Besides bringing snacks, water, and other essentials for the journey, it's vital to have a backup plan in case of delays or cancellations. Arranging transportation from Puno to your destination in advance will ensure that you don't miss out on any part of your journey.
What Companies Run Services Between Cusco, Peru and Puno, Peru?
One of the best ways to get from Cusco to Puno is by bus. There are many companies that run regular services between the cities, and it's important to choose one that is reliable and has a good reputation. Transzela, Cruz del Sur, and Trans Titicaca are the most reputable and well-established bus companies.
Buses are comfortable and have air conditioning, so they are a great way to save on transportation costs. It would be helpful to book tickets well before you depart so that you don't end up standing in line for tickets. When traveling by bus, make sure you have enough water and food with you, as well as a comfortable seat. Also, be aware of the local traffic regulations and always wear a seat belt.
The Best Way To Book Bus and Train Tickets: Puno - Cusco
Getting to and from the city of Cusco can be done easily by bus or train. It's best to book bus and train tickets in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly during peak season. You can save money and time by booking a return journey if possible.
Additionally, it's advisable to book a ticket for one way if you are only traveling in one direction. This way, you only have to pay for one ticket instead of two. While this may seem obvious, it is quite possible to buy a round-trip ticket without meaning to!
If you want to enjoy the best travel experience, it is important to plan ahead and use online services like 12Go. By comparing prices and reserving tickets online, you can save both time and money. The smartest way to get the best price for your bus or train tickets is to use online comparison sites like 12Go to find the best deal for your needs and destination.
If you are planning to travel by train, PeruRail operates a limited schedule, so it is best to consider booking in advance!
About the Ride from Cusco to Puno
If you plan to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru, consider traveling via Cusco and Puno. This route is an iconic one and offers a unique perspective of the Andes. The journey from Cusco to Puno takes about eight hours on a bus and you can cover a distance of about 490 kilometers in this duration.
The best way to cover this stretch is by choosing the right mode of transportation for the journey. You must plan your stops and attractions in detail before leaving Cusco. It would be best if you also familiarize yourself with the safety and comfort norms for high altitudes before boarding the bus, or you may arrive a bit more fatigued than you expect. You would do well to prepare for altitude changes and high altitudes during the trip.
Taking the Taxi from Cusco to Puno
Instead of the self-drive option, a taxi from Cusco to Puno can take the weight off your shoulders and let you cover the hours at your own pace and schedule. The price can vary from $350 USD to $400 or more, depending on timing and car style.
For those traveling in a group, this can be a more affordable option than it initially seems, and a great way of seeing Peru at your own pace. When you are ready to head home, taking a taxi can also be easier than buses for carrying luggage and getting to your hotel or accommodations directly.
Considering a Flight from Cusco to Puno?
Although there are no direct flights from an airport in Cusco to Puno, options are available with a brief layover in Lima, or you can take a flight to Lake Titicaca, then travel a few hours into Puno.
The closest airport to fly to Puno is the Inca Manco Cápac airport in the city of Juliaca which is 44km and approximately 1 hour by road from Puno, whether by driver or passenger in a private car. This combination of flight and driver from Puno may be the fastest way for making the entire journey, but it is not as scenic nor as commonly taken as the train or bus.
Let Cusco and Puno Inspire You
Explore the historic city of Cusco and its Incan ruins in Peru. Start your trip in this vibrant capital, home to beautiful Inca and Spanish-era architecture. Admire the incredible landscapes of the Sacred Valley as you explore the winding roads and waterfalls of this enchanting region.
Take a boat tour of Lake Titicaca, where you can admire the frozen beauty of its shores and catch glimpses of its floating islands on the water. Dive into local cuisine and culture in both cities, indulging in delicious cusqueña cuisine and festivities unique to Peru in Cusco and Puno respectively. You will leave with an inspiring trip to remember.
Popular Places to Visit from Cusco
If you're looking to spend some time in the region of Cusco, there are a number of popular places to see. Some of the highlights of all of Peru include Machu Picchu, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole country. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to spectacular Inca ruins and is best explored on a hike or by train. You can also head south and explore the Sacred Valley, which is filled with traditional Andean villages and archaeological sites.
This area was an important religious and political center for the Inca and features beautiful landscapes and thriving communities. Another great option is Lake Titicaca, which is home to many native species and stunning views of the lake's jagged peaks and crescent beaches. Finally, venture north to Colca Canyon, where you can take spend a few hours on a boat tour around the stunning, world-famous canyon.
What do Travelers Say About the Trip from Cusco to Puno?
Many people are on the cusp of taking a trip to Peru and are already planning their tour itinerary. If you are one of them, here are a few must-do stops in Cusco and Puno that you shouldn’t miss. If you are in Cusco, take a few hours to see the Plaza de Armas and its colonial architecture. You could also check out Conuco, an Inca temple archeological site and tourist hub in the city.
Also, plan to visit San Agustin, an iconic Peruvian baroque church. It has amazing stained glass windows and is a sight not to be missed. Entrance fees are minimal and the site itself is incredibly majestic.
For those who love nature, you cannot miss the Chilca valley or the Huacas de Chenque trekking route. In Puno, you should consider visiting Maras Salt Lake and Puno Lake by bus. Both have unique landscapes and are worth seeing. The beauty of Cusco and the majestic nature of Puno are truly inspiring, making them the perfect destinations for those looking for adventure and fun in Peru.
How long is the bus ride from Cusco to Puno?
The bus ride from Cusco to Puno can be a challenging one, but the route is filled with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, deep blue lakes, and rolling hills. The journey takes travelers through some of Peru's most stunning landscapes and villages, and it allows travelers to visit Incan ruins along the way.
The bus from Cusco to Puno is comfortable and air-conditioned, with plenty of legroom and wifi available on board. This makes the journey from Cusco to Puno an efficient and comfortable one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get from Cusco to Puno?How to get from Cusco to Puno varies based on preference, budget, and schedule. Our guide provides full details on travel by train, bus, and charter taxi between these two historic cities of Southeastern Peru.
What bus companies offer service with departures from Cusco and Puno?Need more information on the bus companies that travel the Cusco to Puno route? The bus from Cusco to Puno can be accomplished by departures by three main bus company lines:
What is the average ticket fare on the Puno to Cusco train?The train from Cusco to Puno the train has three main classes. Let our guide be your source for departures, ticket price, and more information for the trip! The average price for a ticket is around $275 USD.
Is the Cusco to Puno train worth it?If you have the budget, luxury train travel is considered the most comfortable and best way to Puno from Cusco by many who take the route frequently. Though the fare will be a bit extra for comfortable seats and even your own cabin, it can be well worth the price to see the magnificent Peruvian Andes in high style!
What is the average ticket fare on the Puno to Cusco bus?The average bus fare for travel on Cruz del Sur starts at around $15 to 20 USD and increases to a price of around $20 to $25 for one-way VIP tickets.
What is the Cusco to Puno bus trip time?Cusco to Puno bus time is generally approximately ten hours, though this can vary. If you choose to take the direct bus from Cusco to Puno, this can be shortened to around 7 hours.
Is it worth visiting Lake Titicaca?Known for being the highest navigable lake in the world, most travelers to Puno from Cusco do elect to visit Lake Titicaca if time allows when you arrive. Less than an hour from Puno by tourist bus, Lake Titicaca boasts incredible biodiversity and an underwater temple discovered in the year 2000.
When is the best time of year to take the Puno to Cusco trip?Even if you are in the area of Puno for a week or less, we suggest that September can be a great month to travel, right in the sweet spot of the usual April to November tourist season.
Final Words on Cusco to Puno Traveling
We hope this ultimate guide on how to get from Cusco to Puno and the best way to book bus and train tickets have helped you plan your journey.
Travelers along the Cusco Puno route in Peru now have the best options for travel by bus, train, and day charter, along with plenty of options and information on all the best sites to see along the way. From all of us at 12go, we look forward to helping you book your travel plans and happy traveling!